10 Things That Every Great Open-World Game Must Have

open world games
Great open-worlds provide players with a truly immersive gaming experience.

Get Ready For A Lot of Exploration!

Open-world games have always been popular. Besides giving players the potential for limitless play time, these games have been improving and evolving as fast as technology can take them. Now, we are lucky to be able to play various awesome titles such as Grand Theft Auto and Far Cry for as long as we want.

But what exactly makes an open-world game great? Read on to find out!

1. A Dazzling Universe

The world of Far Cry is one of the most picturesque game universes there is.

The first item in this list is obvious, but extremely important nonetheless. Open-world games must have vast worlds where gamers need lots of time and effort to fully explore.

These worlds must also be original, and have certain elements to make them unique. Take Grand Theft Auto, for example. This blockbuster franchise sold millions upon millions of copies by focusing on an urban setting, with cities riddled with crime and danger. Another great example is Far Cry, which focuses on more natural settings such as the plains of Africa.

Far Cry’s developers were able to explore the visual richness of nature, while Grand Theft Auto perfectly captured the thrills of a big city. A great open-world game must take place in a complex universe, capturing its main essence while staying true to the goals of the game.

2. Missions

Conquer your world!

Exploring unknown lands at your own pace surely is fun, but great games must also have a way for the player to interact with more specific features of the universe. For yet another example, GTA made a really good use of missions to also teach the player how to use weapons, make phone calls, hide for cover, and drive cars.

The upcoming Mad Max game perfectly blends the post-apocalyptic world with missions centered towards collecting scarce resources and upgrading the protagonist’s weaponized vehicle.

3. Badass Protagonist(s)

The famous GTA V trio.

Vast worlds would not be as entertaining if it weren’t for equally entertaining characters. Every great open-world game is marked by its main character (or characters) just as much as the world itself.

Whether it be a low-level criminal determined to rise through the ranks (GTA), a survivor seeking revenge (Mad Max), or a mysterious soldier in an unknown land (Far Cry), these types of iconic characters are key to a great open-world game.

4. Awesome Support Characters

Some of the support characters (with the main character) from Watch Dogs.

No matter how badass the main character is, he will still need some allies to make it to the end. Max from Mad Max had Chumbucket, the genius mechanic, help him create the best vehicle of all time. Aiden Pearce, the hacker from watchdogs, had his own mentor.

By having a good support crew, the game can flow more smoothly and have gamers more to love instead of just one character.

5. Formidable Villains

With every new world there is a great challenge.

Awesome open-worlds would be nothing without worthy characters to explore them, and these characters would be nothing without a powerful villain. The idea of a mighty villain is a common one in movies and video games for a reason: in any exciting story, there must exist some enormous challenge to be overcome by the main character.

Great open-world games must have an end goal for the main character, and that usually means having to defeat a great evil force.

6. Detailed Storyline

Lies and conspiracies also await you…

Besides awesome universes and relevant characters, an open-world game must put all of these together with a detailed, solid story. Protagonists must have an end-goal, villains must have a background story, and the overall laws of the game’s universe have to be consistent with these stories.

Gamers today have hundreds of options when it comes to simple first-person shooting games with little backstory or plot. For more immersive and realistic experiences, open-worlds must deliver on the storylines.

7. Replay Value

One of the billions of planets from No Man’s Sky.

It is already implied that vast open-worlds have more content to be explored than normal games. Either way, the detail in these worlds must be high enough to give players multiple hours of fun even after main storylines have been completed.

A great example is Far Cry 4, which contains several other additional chapters after the main plot.

Grand Theft Auto is also a great example, having numerous options for continued playtime, such as the “bounties” online system, where you can earn cash rewards by locating and assassinating rivals scattered throughout the world. The upcoming game No Man’s Sky is rumored to contain more than a quadrillion planets that you can explore. Talk about an open-world!

8. Awesome Action Sequences

One of the many thrilling “road battles” in Mad Max.

Movie-like moments throughout these games make the whole experience feel more immersive and more real, since you really feel like you are a part of an intricate story. GTA can be cited once again for perfect examples, such as when certain missions are about to start, or when ending scenes take place (like the epic ending to GTA V!).

9. Franchise Potential

The Grand Theft Auto series, one of the most successful open-world franchises ever.

Most top open-world games today are part of successful franchises: GTA, Far Cry, and Just Cause, just to cite a few.

Obviously, this is not a strict requirement; however, we would expect that any open-world game that can successfully incorporate all the items in this list would be good enough to spawn future successful sequels, which can either build upon the previous title’s storyline or start a story with new characters altogether.

10. Fun With Exploration

What’s a vast universe without a spaceship?

One of the most appealing aspects of an open-world is just this: it is open. If you don't want to be restricted by missions with timelines, you don’t have to. The beauty of these games is the option that players have to just sit down and enjoy walking around and seeing all there is to see.

There are no constraints that you can’t get rid of in these games. You can do as much as it is physically allowed in the game’s universe! No timelines, no time-pressing issues, just quiet and free exploration.

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